Toothache While Pregnant - Causes, Treatment, And A Cautionary Tale
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A fun surprise I learned halfway through my pregnancy is that pregnant women are more prone to a decline in their dental health, more specifically, tooth decay and gingivitis. Why? The increase in your hormones causes more blood flow to the gums, making you more sensitive to bacteria and plaque. Plus, vomiting from morning sickness deteriorates tooth enamel. Whether you are preparing for what’s to come or you are already facing tooth pain, hopefully my story can help.
Now a cautionary tale…
Prior to learning I was expecting, I self-admittedly had poor oral health. Before I married my husband at twenty-years-old, I had been to the dentist maybe five times my entire life. My husband made me call a dentist and be an adult or whatever. But, there was damage already done. I needed three root canals before the age of twenty-five.
One of the root canals I needed was on a baby tooth that just wouldn’t quit. The tooth was not loose at all so there was no need to extract it. I actually received a lower price on the procedure because it was baby, so we saved it.
At six months pregnant, now age thirty, that baby tooth cracked. I was in no pain, but I was concerned, so I saw my dentist. Because I was pregnant and not in any discomfort, there was no reason to consider my options until after I gave birth.
Fast-forward two months.
I am in agony. It feels like someone is stabbing me in the mouth. I can only assume it is the baby tooth that is the culprit. I am fantasizing about taking pliers and tearing out my tooth myself.
I tell my dentist about my newfound desire to remove my own teeth. She sympathizes and tells me that she will take the tooth out immediately if that’s what I want. However, it is unclear if it my baby tooth or the molar behind it that is actually causing the pain.
Me: “TAKE THEM! TAKE THEM BOTH!”
She provided us an estimate for removing both teeth and replacing them with implants… it would have cost us $6,000 a tooth. I plead to my husband that I’ll go toothless and chew on the left side of my mouth for the rest of my life.
My dear husband began asking more questions before we took drastic measures. As it turns out, both teeth in question have had root canals on them and hence couldn’t be the cause of my pain because they no longer have nerves. No nerves, no pain.
My dentist suggested that the real cause of my anguish were my gums. She prescribed me antibiotics to cure the infection and test this theory. Within a day of medication, I felt better.
I’m glad I have all my teeth and I’m glad I didn’t spend my life savings on an unnecessary procedure. I usually don’t have my husband accompany me to my dental appointments, but because I was in such pain and honestly very nervous, I wanted him there. Don’t be afraid to lean on your support system!
Oral health is a very serious issue, pregnant or not. I wish I had taken it more seriously earlier on in my pregnancy.
Although the last thing you want to do is brush your teeth after throwing up… you should try, not just for you, but for your little one. Poor dental care can actually lead to preterm birth. Below are other ways to help keep up with dental care during pregnancy.
Preventative Measures for Strong Dental Health
- Brush your teeth 2-3 times with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Buy the good toothpaste. Don’t cheap out. I like Sensodyne Repair and Protect.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. It’s gentle on your teeth and gums.
- Floss, floss, floss.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Make sure you tell them you are pregnant so they can take the necessary precautions.
- Drink pomegranate juice to prevent plaque from building up.
How to Deal with Tooth Pain During Pregnancy
- Call your dentist and make an appointment. If you are in severe pain, make an appointment for the same day. Call around to different offices if you have to.
- Tylenol. It’s safe for pregnant women. I wouldn’t trust any other medications without first speaking to your doctor.
- Gargle warm salt water. It cleans and soothes at the same time.
- If you want a more natural remedy, try chewing on a garlic clove. I haven’t personally tried it, but the garlic kills bacteria and in turn, relieves any pain caused by infection.
- Hot or cold pressure. I prefer an ice pack myself, but you could also use a warm washcloth.
- Mix turmeric powder with water and apply to your mouth using a cotton ball. Turmeric contains curcumin which fights inflammation.
- Samantha Colandrea